Pretty Perfect Pastels


How to wear pastels without a hint of frump!

For the longest time pastel colours languished in the realms of boudoirs, badly-designed bathrooms and the covers of Barbara Cartland novels. But the advent of Millennial Pink helped dissociate the palette from perfectly-coiffed, blue- and purple- rinsed grandes dames, and pastel colours, pink in particular, have enjoyed a resurgence in all forms of design, with fashion houses from Balenciaga to Céline and Gucci embracing these delicate pastoral pigments.


Wes Anderson's beautifully kitsch 2014 movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is largely considered to be the nascence of the trend. Shortly afterwards, in 2015, Apple's rose gold iPhone came along followed by every accessory known to woman.  But it wasn't until Pantone crowned Rose Quartz and Serenity as their joint Colour of the Year in 2016 that the pale, powdery palette became firmly ensconced on our Insta feeds.

90s Pastel inspiration from Atelier Versace, as shot by Richard Avedon, 1994 /5

90s Pastel inspiration from Atelier Versace, as shot by Richard Avedon, 1994 /5

I'd like to say my own love affair with pastels began as an architecture student on a 90s trip to South Beach.  

There, I risked my life on the mean streets of Miami, enthusiastically photographing the creamy, dreamy Art Deco buildings, while simultaneously expecting to get gunned down in a drug-war, drive-by shooting that Crockett & Tubbs would soon be investigating (I was a huge Miami Vice fan in the 80s)!  

In fact, my obsession began as a kid, when pocket money was spent on scented erasers, Hello Kitty notebooks and candy-coloured pens! 

I used to write my pen pals on different coloured notepaper with tonal ink and matching, self-designed logo that I repeated on every page and on the envelope!  

What must the postie have thought!


So without further delay, here are my top tips to wearing pastels without the parody!

1.  Find the best colour for your skin tone.  I find that lilac, though I love it, tends to make me look pale and sickly, while pinks and blues work better (as long as I have a pop of lippy!

2. Try a top-to-toe column of colour - this is more fashion forward and it will elongate the body and unify the look.  A single pastel sweater can look a little bit accidental and washed out, but an entire outfit is a statement.

3. If you don't have all the pieces for a one-colour look, try mixing every pastel piece you own!  As long as the pieces are in the same tonal family - ie they contain the same amount of white, they will harmonise beautifully, and again, look like a statement.  Be brave!


One way to dip your toe in the pretty pastel paint pot is with accessories.  Purses, jewellery, nail varnish, shoes and even underwear are easy ways to introduce a touch of candy-floss!

At NYFW in September, pastels featured heavily for S/S18, heralding the next big revival of confectionary colours in fashion.  

Perhaps you've never tried wearing pastels, or maybe you're scared of the soft femininity of the palette.  Well, consider the words of Victoria Beckham at her NYFW show: "Delicacy can be strong".  

Couldn't agree more, VB. 

Dare to go pale!